Palm, Inc. CEO Carl Yankowski resigned late today, following a year in which the company went from being the cash-flush envy of the handheld industry to a case study of mismanagement.
Eric Benhamou, Palms chairman of the board, will serve in his place until a permanent successor is named.
The Santa Clara, Calif., company also announced that it is in the final stages of its internal split into two businesses – one for hardware and one for the Palm operating system.
"With Palms transition into two individual businesses almost complete, my role has changed, and it no longer matches my aspirations," said Yankowski. "I leave confident that our separation and solutions strategies, combined with the new leadership at the helm of both businesses, will result in increased shareholder value. It has been an honor to lead Palm."
Yankowski did not announce his future plans.
Benhamou will chair an Executive Council until a new CEO is named. The council comprises David Nagel, CEO of the new Platform Solutions Group; Todd Bradley, Palm executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Solutions Group; and Judy Bruner, Palm senior vice president and chief financial officer.
In a June interview with eWEEK, Benamou backed the embattled Yankowski, saying "Let me say for the record, Carl definitely has the complete support of the board."
But Yankowski had been under fire for more than a year, making decisions that prompted one of his colleagues to remark, "Its the worst case of mismanagement Ive ever seen."
Yankowski was criticized along with other Palm executives for never building a clear strategy to woo enterprise customers. Customers complained of several projects that never saw the light of day, including a corporate portal for the Palm.
More directly, Yankowski was blamed for announcing new products too soon.
In an effort to compete against Handspring Inc.s Visor Edge, Palm pre-announced the m500 and m505 handhelds, which dried up sales of existing products.
"Yankowski shot his mouth off about new products too soon," said a former Palm executive earlier this year. "And then its one of those whoops, Ive got a bunch of inventory things. ... Its not unusual to miss the boat sometimes in this industry, but the degree to which things have been missed in this case seems odd."